Friday, July 18, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Saratoga Analysis for Saturday, July 19
Race 1: #7 Kamarius made no impression as a rare big-priced Pletcher first-time starter at Monmouth three weeks ago, but we have reason to believe that he'll be a much different horse in Saturday's opener. He broke slowly in that debut run and was never involved in the running at any point, but the winner was an uncoupled stablemate of his from the Pletcher barn who was sent off at 3/5 odds. We'll view that effort as simply a spin around the track to help prepare Kamarius for this stretch out in distance and switching of surfaces, as his pedigree suggests he'll improve with both. He is by Candy Ride and is a half-brother to the Grade 2 turf winner Sarach. #6 Luck of the Kitten is a first-time starter for powerful connections, and he is a half-brother to the stakes-winning turf runner Empire Builder. #9 Lockport will also switch surfaces and stretch out after a dirt sprint debut, and his trainer gets strong ratings with the dirt-to-turf switch (100), second- time starters (100), and first turf (91); $105k feels like a lot to pay for a yearling by Temple City, so maybe there is something there. The first-time starter with the best pedigree is #2 Dubai Sky, who is a full-brother to Twirling Candy (a graded stakes winner over all three surfaces, and winner of 7 of his 11 career starts) and a half to the Grade 2 turf winner Ethnic Dance; caveat being that his Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is a lowly rated 37 with first-time starters in turf routes. #8 Mr. Discreet debuts for Pletcher and also has a big pedigree, being out of a dam who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Discreet Cat and Discreetly Mine, though they were dirt horses.
Race 2: There are questions regarding #9 Groupthink, who was last seen dueling down eventual multiple graded stakes- placed Derby entrant Uncle Sigh at the end of last year. He's not an easy horse to take a short price on, but he's landed in the right kind of field for his return, and he drew very well on the outside. #5 Handy Stan may be his most dangerous rival, as he has plenty of speed, and Pace Projector likes his chances to get comfortable in the early going; 102 TimeformUS Speed Figure earned for his last race is tops in the field by a clear margin. #3 Sidearm is consistent and is second back from a short break, but will need some pace to close into and is running out of chances quickly.
Race 3: Interested to see what we get from firster #3 Contrary Opinion, who has a big speed pedigree for a win-early outfit in Klaravich Stables Inc; trainer isn't known to crank them up, but put a fast breeze into this horse at Delaware a week ago. We'll look to get the experienced horses home in this race, and prefer #6 Bird Now to #5 Cosmic Gold. Bird Now ran a better race than it may appear at first asking here last summer, getting bet down to 6/1 in a field that contained sub-2/1 shots from both Pletcher and Asmussen, and then showing speed to get into a fast duel with the eventual winner Dunkin Bend. He's caught a pair of muddy sealed tracks since then and may turn it around with fast going on Saturday. Cosmic Gold switches to Castellano for his second start (trainer gets 88 rating with second-time starters, as compared to his overall 74 rating) and was sent through on the rail in his Parx debut, which is often not the place to be on that track.
Race 4: We'll see what happens with this field full of first-time starters, which contains two from the loaded Pletcher barn, and an Asmussen, as well. For what it's worth, #7 Money Changer, the preferred one of the Pletcher duo, brought $100k after working a 1/4 mile in :20.1 at Keeneland. We're more interested in #5 Smithereen, who shipped north for Wesley Ward after posting a fast breeze at Gulfstream Park just over two weeks ago; wondering if his plans were changed after that. #1 Special Invitation reportedly buried a field in a training race in Puerto Rico back in early May; has a spotty NY work tab since then, but may be more dangerous than he appears at first glance. #4 Now We Are Free shows a series of slow breezes up to his debut; is out of a dam who went 10-for-20 and won multiple stakes in her career en route to over $420k in earning, and her first two foals to race are both multiple winners.
Race 5: #3 Majestic Hussar finally posted a couple of long-overdue wins when returned from the layoff as a 4yo, and he has big speed at his disposal, which Pace Projector indicates will be to his advantage.
#1A Cherokee Artist is a solid old-timer, and he exits a strong effort, defeating a good field of sprinters in a stakes race at MTH; figures tough if he's half Jacobson sends. #2 Sam Sparkle parlayed a good, aggressive ride into an upset victory at the end of May but is effective from farther off the pace as well and can be a late danger if a contested pace develops. Both #1 Be Bullish and #6 Frazil are hard-hitting old warriors who can win this with their best efforts.
Race 6: #8 Readyheartandsoul has faced solid main track competition, and took a step forward in off-the-turf event last time; has plenty of grass in his female family, as his dam was a turf winner and she is out of Try N Sue, who won the Yaddo here a few years ago and is a sister to several good turf runners. #12 Thurgood may be the horse to beat making his second start for Clement, and he showed something after encountering some trouble behind his stablemate Point Roll in his debut; tough post for him to overcome. Both #10 Boston Strong and #3 Mr Ciolko exit late-running efforts going shorter at Belmont last month, and both are open to much improvement. #11 Forever Utopia has had the most chances, and it is annoying that he's settled for second-best in 4 of 5 career starts on grass, but he has good form and is a contender.
Race 7: Good field of nine assembled for the Grade 2 Sanford, with the strength on the outside in the form of #8 Nonna's Boy and #9 Cinco Charlie. Nonna's Boy impressed in speedy debut for Pletcher, earning this field's top TimeformUS Speed Figure (90) by a clear margin, and his effort was flattered when runner-up Bustin It returned to demolish a field at Belmont on closing day.
Cinco Charlie has the advantage of a pair of races under his belt (one of them a graded stakes win) and of having already traveled this six-furlong distance; will be sternly tested in this spot, but he's already proven to be up for a race in the stretch. We'll also make a backup ticket covering #4 Big Trouble, who impressed in his winning debut for a dangerous trainer while not appearing to be comfortable with that short five-furlong trip.
Race 8: Good race to stand against shorter prices on the ML like #9 Tasmona, who can win but just doesn't appear to be that good, and #10 Devilish Love, who convincingly beat a very weak field last time. We've been waiting for #1 Fade to Black to switch off the main track, as her pedigree is heavily slanted towards turf and synthetic (her dam is a sister to graded stakes winning turfers Dreaming of Anna and Justenuffhumor); drew a great inside post for this distance on the inner and figures to be a price. #11 Weave caught a fast pace to close into over shorter last time, but was unlucky in the stretch when unable to get herself out into the clear, and then had to steady late; can do better, especially if the projected fast pace for this race develops for her. #5 Stock Fund has finally put things together, after taking 23 starts to break her maiden, and she was dead-game trying to close into a tough pace scenario last time.
Race 9: #2 Pyrite Mountain switches to Pletcher for his 4yo debut after flashing ability to begin his career. Already a stakes winner over synthetic, he's lightly raced over turf but has run well in all three starts over this surface, and it's encouraging that he showed more speed when last seen at Woodbine, as those tactics could serve him well in this spot. #10 North Star Boy didn't draw particularly well, but he's reliable to show up and run his race, and was a winner here last summer. #5 Star Channel has never been one of our favorites, but he has a race to get to that would be very tough on this field, and he's generally a fair price. #3 Which Market is another who can win, but he had all the best of it while closing into a fast and contested pace over a shorter distance last time.
Saturday's running of the Grade 1 Diana drew a field of 10 fillies and mares and could hardly have come up a stronger race. Each one of the 10 entered is already a graded stakes winner, half of them at the Grade 1 level. Both #3 Somali Lemonade and #6 Discreet Marq are contenders, so let's start with them, as they may hold the keys to this race.
Somali Lemonade has turned her career around with the addition of blinkers for her 5yo season. She has shown more speed with her new equipment, and parlayed her new running style into a Grade 3 win at Pimlico and two other solid placings at the graded stakes level, including a game third-place finish in the Grade 1 Just a Game last time. She set a solid pace that day with pressure throughout, and dug in determinedly at the end to hold onto her placing. The question surrounding this race is: Will she be allowed to get more comfortable up front and by so doing become more dangerous, or will Discreet Marq, who was up there applying pressure to her throughout the Just a Game, come after her early again?
If she gets control, she's a big factor. But with Discreet Marq in the field, it feels as if she is in for more of the same in the Diana, and that makes things very tough for her. Same goes for Discreet Marq, who has shown in the past that she can rate and run but may be in a tough position in this race, having to keep Somali Lemonade honest up front.
#4 Emollient is one of those Grade 1 winners, although the American Oaks field that she defeated last year was hardly of top-level quality. She also has some speed and could be a pace factor in this race if ridden with that intent, but she has always been something of an in-and-outer. In her defense, when she shows up with her best stuff, as she often seems to do on synthetic surfaces, she's quite good. Her top TimeformUS Speed Figure of 111, earned in her valiant BC Filly & Mare Turf effort last year, gives her a big chance in this race--if she can repeat it.
These horses are all contenders in the Diana, but we aren't sure what we'll get from any of them in this race, which makes it tough for us to back them with any confidence. Because of that, we will go to a couple of different horses for our play. #10 Tannery is as consistent as a horse can be, putting up TimeformUS Speed Figures between 104 and 114 for each and every start dating back to the end of 2012. She was a very good 2nd last time out, in the Grade 2 New York, as she wound up in the unenviable position of having to chase a very good horse through a strong final fraction.
She came away second-best on the day, but it was yet another good effort for this horse, who seems to show up with nothing but good efforts. We think she is the horse to beat, in a lot of ways, and will make her a major part of our play.
The other horse for us is #8 Alterite, who returns from the layoff for Chad Brown. Alterite just missed vs. Group 1 company in France as a 3yo before arriving stateside to compete in the better turf races for her division at the end of the year. That move paid off right away, as she came through with a much-the-best win in the Grade 1 Garden City over, among others, Discreet Marq and Emollient. From there she went to Keeneland for the other major prize for 3yo turf fillies, the QEII. Racing wide and too close to an enterprising pace that day, Alterite stayed on gamely all the way to the end but fell short of holding off the closing winner. She then backed that race up quite well when 3rd in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf behind Dank and Romantica. The layoff is a big question for her in this race, and we would not be thrilled to take her at the ML price of 3/1, but in a field this loaded, she may drift to a better price. If she does, we'll be there to make sure she gets into our play.
We will also include #2 Abaco somewhere, as she has developed strongly for Shug McGaughey and exits a fine try going longer last time behind the highly promising Riposte.
Race 11: #2 All Included figures to take plenty of action here off of his visually impressive win in his turf debut downstate, but that race came back a little light on our speed figures, and he got a great trip in there in a race where the closers failed to show up. We're against him at a short price, and are most interested in trying #3 Alarmed Ndangerous as he makes his second start back from a layoff after getting in a good-looking prep run earlier this month; has run well up here each of the last two years, including a pair of upset wins in 2012, and seems set up for success once again. #7 McIlroy can contend, as he really picked up his game off the claim by Chad Brown and then found himself up against it last time in a race that was slow early and fast late. Last time was the time for #11 Make a Decision, as he was likely to emerge victorious if he could have found room in the stretch; feels like a bit of fool's gold in this race. #6 Alakazan Alakazan shows just one win, which came in his debut in his native Brazil, but he's run well in his US starts when logically placed.